Page:A critical examination of Dr G Birkbeck Hills "Johnsonian" Editions.djvu/16

This page has been validated.


Bennett Scholarship! This leads on to a disquisition on the value of the Bennett Scholar ship in 1764 how much was the emolument, etc. Next we come to an index of these "Addenda"; and then to the gigantic general index, which consists of no less than 288 pages, or nearly 600 columns! It has indexes within indexes indexes to Johnson's and Boswell's lives, to Scotland, Ireland, etc. Yet another index follows, oddly denominated "Dicta Philo sophi," or a concordance of Johnson's sayings; with a third. We may contrast with this bulk Mr Croker's simple, admirable index, which fills not quite thirty pages.

Surely a writer so enthusiastic, so familiar with his subject, ought to know the exact name of the first published production of James Boswell. His index proves that he has never seen it certainly never read it. In it we find a reference in italics to "The Club at Newmarket." Turning back to the text it is there again, "The Club" etc. Now, Boswell had indeed written a piece "The Cub at Newmarket," and it will be urged that this was a mere slip, or printer's error, "Cub" and "Club" being so like. But it goes deeper than this. "The Cub" was a piece of doggerel in which Boswell foolishly applied the term "Cub" to himself, so the title exactly described his own "antics." It was no misprint. This production is never alluded to in Boswell's own work, and indeed is little known, but it is found in the letters to Temple, where it is also misprinted "Club," and that misprint it was that misled the editor.

After all this labour, the editor tells us he "will be greatly disappointed if actual errors are discovered" in his index. But we have found some of reference, paging, etc., and he himself confesses that though, under the head ings of America, Oxford, London, Ireland, etc., he sets out all that falls under such heads, somehow "the provincial towns of France, by some mistake, I did not include in the general article." The following is grotesque enough. Under "Port," we have, "it is rowing without a port, i.e. without an object;" on which the editor refers us, see "Claret."

We turn to "Bute," and find: "Bute, third Earl of, Adams, the architect, patronises, II. 325." This seems an odd sort of "Pigeon" English. Adam, by the way, and not Adams, is the architect's name. Some of the Johnsonian dicta are not Johnsonian at all, and would ap pear to have slipped into the list from the general index. Thus we have Gibber's old jest about the pistol missing fire; and under "quare," "A writ of quare adhæsit pavimento (Wags of the Northern Circuit) III. 261," which refers to the well-known hoax upon Boswell. We have also Mrs Salisbury's sayings, with the one about "No tenth transmitter of a foolish face," etc.; and finally the quotation—"Live pleasant, Burke;" with Quin's and Lord Auchinleck's speeches about kings, and " Boswell's description of himself as 'Baro,'" all which are classed as "sayings of Johnson."

I suppose, if we were to search all the known indexes, we should never find one in which the pronoun "I" is entered and referred to with chapter and verse. Our editor has actually done this feat. Here it is, with chapter and verse. In the index to the "Dicta Philosophi " we find the letter "I" set down by itself; then follows this reference: "I put my hat upon my head, II. 136, n. 4"! We rub our eyes, but there it is! And this doggerel, moreover, is one of the "Dicta Philosophi"—one of "Johnson's strong and pointed utterances" which the editor has collected for the "literary man"! Another of these "strong and pointed utterances" we find under the word "Hog"—"Yes, sir, for a hog."

The strangest of Dr B. Hill's delusions is that